Watching that new rink rise out of the ground downtown isn’t only a source of pride for citizens and fans of the Edmonton Oilers, it’s bumped the value of the franchise to $455 million, according to Forbes, which is more than double the $225 million the team was assessed at in 2011-12.

That, according to assessments made by Forbes, puts the Oilers as the NHL’s 12th most valuable franchise. You can read the entire item here and find an item specific to the Oilers here. That $455 million valuation is actually down from the $475 million valuation Forbes made for 2013-14.

No matter how you felt about proposals for the downtown arena and the surrounding area when owner Daryl Katz and the city were negotiating to take the project from proposals and blueprints to reality, there’s no doubt the valuation of the Oilers is tied directly to the deal struck in May of 2013.

Before that bit of business was at long last complete, the Oilers were valued at $225 million by Forbes for 2011-12. The Oilers rated last in the NHL in 2002-03 with a valuation of $91 million. In the latest Forbes valuation, the New York Rangers top all teams at $1.2 billion. The Montreal Canadiens are rated second at $1.18 billion.

The latest valuation of the Oilers is obviously a big win for Katz, but from where I sit, the Ice District is going to transform the entire downtown area for the better, whether you attend a single hockey game or not. As for Oiler fans, the Cadillac of NHL buildings will open for business for the 2016-17 season, when the Oilers return to the playoffs after a 10-year absence.


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We’ve kicked around the “visually better” angle since former GM Craig MacTavish uttered those words a couple of seasons ago, and there was more of the same after the Oilers kicked off a five-game road trip with a 1-0 loss to the Washington Capitals Monday.

“If anybody leaves the rink with their heads hanging down I’m going to kick them in the butt,” coach Todd McLellan said. “We’ve used the term ‘moral victory’ more than once this year. The points are very, very important in the standings, but the growth and the development of the team is just as important. We lost the points but grew as a team.”

That’s a tough sell, I know. The Oilers are 7-13-1 for 15 points and sit dead-last in NHL standings. Bottom line is that’s not good enough, but unless my eyes are playing tricks on my brain – that’s happened a time or two – what I’m seeing backs up what McLellan is saying even without digging into a pile of advanced stats. It doesn’t ring hollow. I don’t see that as giving the Oilers an easy out or a pass, I see it as reality.

The roster still needs work, but a corner has been turned a quarter of the way through the season in terms of structure and process in the way this team plays. If that continues, results will follow. It won’t happen quickly enough to vault the Oilers into playoff contention, even with the return of Connor McDavid, in the second half of the schedule, but I’ll be stunned if a turn north isn’t obvious to even the most cynical fan over the final 41 games this season.



  • For a prospect who was seen in many ways as a “risk-reward” guy, Darnell Nurse is exceeding expectations through his first dozen games this season. My biggest fear with Nurse was that he would try to do too much in the name of making an impact and would fall victim to the big mistake. For the most part, that hasn’t been the case.

    It looks to me like Nurse is playing in safe-mode, and that’s not a knock. While Nurse hasn’t made a big splash, he hasn’t put himself in McLellan’s bad books by playing out of position looking for big hits or making hair-on-fire rushes up ice. That’s smart. Once Nurse gains McLellan’s trust, he’ll get a longer leash. Good plan. 
  • Of course Nail Yakupov misses McDavid. Everybody on the Oilers roster does. In the case of Yakupov, though, the absence of McDavid has underlined what a lot of fans already suspected about Yakupov – he’s a complementary player who can follow if he’s plugged in with the right linemates, but he isn’t capable of leading.

    Yakupov has scored 2-9-11 so far this season, but has managed just one assist in the eight games he’s played since McDavid broke his collarbone. I see a player who works hard enough, but not smart enough. I see a player capable of contributing offensively in a third-line role, but not a player who does enough things well to be counted on regularly for top-six minutes. I see a player who has already been surpassed in terms of development by Leon Draisaitl.
  • Every indication is Justin Schultz will be ready to play against Carolina on Wednesday or in Detroit Friday, meaning we’re likely to see somebody get a ticket to Bakersfield of the AHL. The likeliest candidate for that, as has been mentioned multiple times already, is Griffin Reinhart.
  • Won’t be surprised if Lauri Korpikoski gets a one-game suspension for the elbow he landed on Jay Beagle in Washington Monday. That’s a textbook targeted head shot if ever there was one. 

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    The whole small skilled forwards has failed miserably and this team needs a shock at its core. I can see a Nuge, Eberle or Schultz getting traded sometime soon. We need bigger meaner players who compete hard not a bunch of frat boys who slay puck bunnies on Whyte Ave every year. This team needs some guys who play with their heart on their sleeve. We know we got the speed skill to match anyone but where are the huevos? The cajones of this team is sorely lacking and they need to become a skilled bully team. Guys like Ladd, Buff and Hamonic might help. I’d take a chance on some guys who play with some meat in their game over a bunch of one rush guys who can’t win a game without an 18 year old phenom. Time to muscle up this team up front and in the back, can you imagine a Buff Nurse tandem? Many NHL forwards will litter our defensive zone with their carcasses.

    • Garbage,

      Saw a lot of heart last night. That was a great hockey game. Problem with you lot is you don’t enjoy the game for what it is. Question is going to be what happens tomorrow night, do the Oilers play like they did last night or do they play down to there competition?

        • vetinari

          agreed. What Nuge WILL be is the best 3rd line center in the league for the next 10 years.

          All three centers will be kept.

          We win a cup with 1 or 2 wingers killing it on entry level contracts when everyone else is still under 30.

          • S cottV

            He probably wont sustain the same numbers, but that isn’t the issue.

            Drai is playing the big man in middle – centre ice position beautifully in all areas of the ice.

            Quite remarkable for such a young guy.

            The extra jump he has developed, allows him to not cheat on defensive responsibility but still jump up on offensive opportunity. In fact, he can over jump on offense and still recover with a pretty shocking back check.

            Big man, big reach, smart, great vision, great passer, great shot, big speed with jump, knows how to play the c position…

            I just hope that they guys who play against him, do stuff and say stuff – that will get him mad. A touch of meaness would be an even more wonderful thing.

            His points may ebb and flow to some degree but the average will be well in line, for a long time to come.

  • NJ

    If you’d forget about the fact that Yak is a number one pick, you’d realize right now he’s a serviceable 3rd liner. 🙂 He’s on a great contract, he’s got 11 points through 21 games and he forecheck hard and hits. He’s second on the team in shots and has a measly 4% (3.9) shooting per centage.

    Forget where he was drafted and perspective changes.

    He looks like a waterbug out there, no doubt. He needs calm feet and to tone down the adrenaline intake. He actually did tone it down with McDavid and maybe a few months with McD instead of a few games will allow him to turn a corner.

    He cannot carry a line. He isn’t that player. He’s a give and go kind of guy. He needs Nuge or McDavid etc.

    I’m not gonna get into point equivalents etc, but is it just me or is Eberle a little short on points for his games played. Pick on him. 😛

    • Anton CP

      Why should we pretend to forget Yak is a #1 pick and just be ok with him as a 3rd liner. He is not a 3rd liner. He has zero elements to his game that would make him a serviceable player in that role. He was drafted to play in the top 6 but can’t play there. I know he was scoring and in the action more because of McDavid but that was such a small sample. It’s ridiculous to think he will all of a sudden be able to score 30 goals with McDavid, he has played with Nuge, Hall, Eberle, first line, second line, power play, he has been given a fair shot but is a failure. Also part of being a pro is dealing with lineup changes and injuries, so does Yak get a free pass or something to be brutal every time McDavid is hurt or sick, that is bs. He should contribute regardless. Ebs year was derailed with his injury and last time I checked his production is tripled Yaks the last few years, that’s a weak argument to toss Ebs name around because he is struggling coming off injury. If you gave up on Ebs before Yak that is crazy talk.

      • NJ

        Because it doesn’t matter. Let me ask you this? What do you need to be a good serviceable 3rd liner?

        Yak hits. Forechecks hard. He’s -1 this year through 21 games. 11 points. Lets say he finishes at 40 points and 15 goals. I understand that’s a stretch based on current production but at 4% shooting, improvement has to happen at some point. Not just that though, the improvements I’ve seen in Yak are defensively, not offensively. If that continues, the offence WILL come. Those are things you see in a 3rd liner at those points. If he somehow becomes a 60 point guy, then he’s a top 6 guy.

        Listen. I don’t disagree that Yak needs to improve IF you consider draft pedigree, but giving him away for “whatever you can get” at this point would never help. The rule is BUY low, SELL high, not the other way around.

        Next, Yak isn’t getting a free pass. He’s currently playing on the 3rd line beside Letestu/Lander and whatever randomness slides into left wing. He’s roughly playing 15 minutes a game.

        Eberle is -3 over 8 games with 3 goals. Full stop. 18 minutes a game (I eyeballed it, might be closer to 17:45). That -3 came in one game (LA). IE: Who’s getting the free pass. Look, I don’t care if you give Ebs a pass, he’s a helluva player and he can goal score at a rate of “about” 25 a year, which is tops on the oil, but if you’re “passing” on Ebs, you might as well pass on Yak.

        Yak has a lot to learn, I don’t mind where he’s playing in the lineup and Purcell and Eberle are both outplaying him. But let’s keep things in perspective and give him a bit of time. Hopefully the jitters vanish, he buys some confidence at the expense of Buffalo Detroit and Pittsburgh and we finish this road trip 4-1. 😛

      • vetinari

        don’t get so worked up. They will play him with McD for a year and a bit. He will look all world. People will forget. He will be traded for a stud. All will be happy.

  • S cottV

    Yak needs to be moved, even for the sake of Yak.

    He’s not gonna live up to the first overall thing and that’s an embarrassment to the organization and to Yak.

    It’s distracting and the team and Yak don’t need it.

    The team needs to get on with its bigger and harder to play against theme.

    Yak – needs less pressure and a fresh start.

  • vetinari

    I think Brownlees assessment of Yak is fair. But couldn’t he get a more accurate shot with work? Better d coverage with coaching?

    If you can’t then trade him But NOT FOR,PICKS!

    Trade for Kadri vs a pick

    The trade for Yak was last summer would have been for Hagelin

  • Anton CP

    Since Yak’s junior year that he is like an F1 race car instead of a typical sports car. Anyone can drive a sports car because it was designed that way but only the professional racers can manage an F1 car.

    I never thought of Yak would be a good fit for the Oilers right at beginning because he just won’t fit into the team’s structure. Yak was playing so well because that McDavid can match up to Yak’s speed and also only McDavid is smart enough to read off Yak.

    As for now that Draisaitl is more like Stamkos type of C that can really benefit his skill sets playing next to a play making W, like how St. Louis to Stamkos. Nuge is a C with playing style similar to Datsyuk, two way C with individual skills and can play with any linemates and still be effective but he may not be benefiting his own linemates though.

    Yak is almost a typical Russian W, skate with full speed and shoot at will. In lots of ways that Yak is comparable to Bure that can be a very good forward IF he can play with someone matching the skill sets. Bure benefited a lot from playing next to Linden and later with Kozlov. Russians’ tendencies are so unpredictable that it can be a great scorer that seem to be unstoppable or a total bust because they are always trying to do too much.

  • Anton CP

    “[This arena is a] source of pride for citizens and fans of the Edmonton Oilers”

    Yes, be proud that an arrogant billionaire fleeced your city out of hundreds of millions of dollars. When you’re done feeling good about that you can look back on the past almost 10 years of Kaetz ownership and smile about the fact that the Oilers have literally become the least competitive team in NHL history.

  • Anyone else see the rent Katz pays to the City for Rexall? Holy crap thats cheap.

    For reference (using a per game rental value) that is less than Electric Garage auctions pays Northlands to rent space for the Motorshow weekend.

    What a steal by Katz….. holy moly.